Taking The Leap of Faith

CaptureWhen I decided to have a go at it and learn everything I can with the business of publishing my own coloring book for grown up.

I never knew I could be this scared in my entire life.

And there are very few instances that I could call myself batshit scared out of my wits:

Marriage.

Fatherhood.

and now:

Startup.

The other day I just had a disturbing sort of discussion with some friends, well one is a good friend and a couple I just knew from my previous job. And I was mystified that they have reacted as if I was merely being a brat when I commented that there was no movement on their part while I was illustrating my ass off.

Oh, the project was the adult coloring book. We were supposed to be all four people as business partners, two of us would be illustrating.

So I was expecting the others would be busy building up the costing nad marketing plan while two of us were doing the drawings.

I assumed wrong. Maybe because it’s my own fault that we never really discussed the roles each of us need to fill. And they, at least two reacted as if I was picking a fight. Illustrating is what I feel passionately about, and putting out something with good quality and lasting impression is what I feel passionately too. So my strong queries led me to think I had to do things on my own.

Well not entirely alone, I mean I know nothing of the business side of publishing so I still need Marie‘s input with this, and the costing and business plan, I sought out another dear friend – Sally , we’ve known each other for several years now – and get my brain working in a businessman’s train of thought.

So taking the reigns, I may have stepped on people’s toes. But that is understandable. Putting out a book, even a coloring book, is not just some whimsical “let’s make our own adult coloring book!” gang outing. It needs to start with the right kind of attitude and the strong sense of realistic purpose, not some trendy hashtag.

So I dug up information. And sent out inquiries to National Bookstore that led to to Anvil Publishing and so I went and printed a mockup  of the coloring book took the sample to Pioneer street in Mandaluyong. Needless to say I was exhilirated and downraight frightened of the thought of going all indie. Along with these inquiries, I also sent out emails to several bookstores, but NBS is the responded positively.

Why am I terrorized by this prospect?

A lot is riding on this venture. A couple of months ago I started putting out my own comics creations via my Wix site/portfolio and just made them available to everyone who’s smart enought to read stuff on the web. And the other stories that I have been talking about in my tweets, Facebook and Blogger I have just gone out and done.

It’s a leap of faith.

I’ve taken it.

And the feeling is all sorts of wonder, dread and…

Elation.

Because I’m tired of giving away my artwork. I’m tired of people like Kit who acts as if he’s your savior and champion while stompiong on your artistry by treating as a mediocre graphic artist, dragghing you into all sorts of cons and events without really knowing if you ecer get something out of it. Carlo once told me, if you’re good at something, don’t give it for free, or something in that vein.

So my decision is put out something worthy of selling and virtually saying-

“I offer you this. You want it, give me your money”

There it is.

Go And Tell Yourselves That

First of all, things would not have come to this sort of venting online if anyone of you in the high management had learned to talk. Well, of course you talk a lot, just not the words people need to hear. Want and need has very different meanings, I assumed since you are in the industry of publishing books.

Not just books, mind you, but values books. Literature that is aimed specifically at teaching children the meaning of the word, nestled neatly among others such as honor, understanding, humility, rationality, spirituality and being assertive. All of which are very commendable indeed.

Oh, the pep speeches were even better, how you won’t stand for mediocrity, how you expect people to share the same enthusiasm as you have shown. How “we are all family inside the office” really can get that “one-for-the-team” spirit roaring to get things done.

The issue is not the money, if it was, I could have asked for a bigger pay, very much like , my previous work, but you told me  you are a startup company, and I love underdogs. I love drawing. I love illustration. I brought my own laptop because the office has a shortage of computers to work on. The promised light box was not built so I made makeshift light boxes out of cardboard and glass to save the company on expenses. heck i even volunteered to do your AVP and training module videos, if you people had only taken the time to appreciate the fact that most of these things that I have done and offer are mostly premium services that would cost an arm and a leg. But I love underdogs, and I believed everything  you said. And often I put my work at the forefront, cancelling my trip home to the countryside just to troubleshoot problem spots in production. I thought If I take care of this, the work will take care of my family.

Or so I thought, darn gullible me.

They look professional enough though. Even won an award for these values books. Tall talkers and big spenders when it comes to dining clients and book launchings. Even provides food for employees.

But the delays and the seemingly inconsiderate manner you have treated people is what’s bothering me.  If salaries are to be delayed, would the rational, decent thing to do is to tell the employees that it will be? No, we waited and waited  only to be told “today is not payday, maybe tomorrow, okay?” . And the only time we spoke of any contract was during my interview. Up until the last day I finally got fed up, no one came to me, no sms, no email was sent informing me of my contract. The accounting is so lousy, I cringe every time the pay gets there on time, and errors are evident.

I was fool enough accepting that last folder of illustration as freelance. Again, I thought, well why not? But you evade the issue of that signed NDA copies that never came my way.  The late issuing of the folder was a red flag I dismissed. Until I finished the whole project and like a broken record – no one is asking me that the balance is ready if I’m finished with the drawings. Because that was the agreement.

I keep repeating  I need the copy of the NDA I signed, but if fell on deaf ears. I numerous times asked for a re-accounting of my salary when I was still a regular employee without a contract. Before hand I even moved from Novaliches, from which I was beginning to love, and found a  vacant room for rent here in Mandaluyong , so that I can be at work quickly.

Well, I swallowed my pride recently, because I left friends in your office that was tied to that balance payment. I had to accept it without the NDA I was asking for, so that the guys can make do of the unpaid debts.

and the most bothersome is the late reply, after all the emails and text I’ve sent, which I never forget to mention I need that copy of the NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT I signed days before I even managed to remind them that I haven’t received the stories to be illustrated, this letter I got was so pissed off at letting down my conviction of not accepting the balance payment without the NDA, because my friends are in financial trouble, same as me. The letter was so . . .condescending, that I feel I need to include it here:

Capture

Again, that NDA issue was evaded, very cunningly, although I have been mentioning it. You probably know by now, since I sound like a broken record already.

How can you teach values, when valuable people get undervalued by your mismanagement? Writers got tired of it all much earlier. Some are staying for fear of not finding another job. Those computers never got bought, even though it was badly needed. And worst of all, you don’t have a Creative Director, nor a direction. You just hired a semi-creative wannabe as an editor, who if you have half the brain to discern, has taken production way back there since he came in. face it, you don’t have a system, and when artists get angry, you blame him for being unreasonable.

It’s your problem now. Good luck with the rest of the illustrations and writing you need for it. I’m tired of gritting my teeth. I blame myself for getting sucked in to your idea of production.

Superficial (Fiction)

Oh, let me rephrase that last statement.

I may have bought myself another one way ticket to creative hell.

It’s like that.

As I ponder on how to go about working around the lack of script, reading the instructions while inside a jeepney that’s booming with a rather clunky old Pioneer sound sytem, which was playing that super-extended version of Mary J. Blige’s Family Affair, I struggle to keep the papers I’m holding with the sudden stops and acceleration usually associated with jeepney drivers obsessed with anyone standing on the sidewalk even if he’d just seen that person come down from the one before him.

The cash felt good in my pocket. I could send the rest to my family in the countryside and keep just enough to feed my face for a couple of weeks. Think about the rent later. And the installment for that motorcycle that I haven’t ridden yet.

I stuff the papers back to its folder and envelope, with an idea on how to start with sketching the backgrounds and do some research on the net. Good thing I can load that plugit for 5 days. Even with the intermittent connection, it is still a viable tool for lots and lots of references.

And Game of Thrones.

I alighted, nearly missing my step as the driver hurried to get out of the no unloading zone. Didn’t bother me though, I was thinking of poses and angles and detailing the sketches I was about to start when I get home. Crossing the the street, I was reminded of  Josephine. How her hands felt soft as she handed me the money. How she smiled that semi-sincere smile, that drop of sweat nearly got me staring as it rolled down her cleavage.

I shuddered. Have to repress that hardon that was growing.

I stopped, debating whether to ride another gruesome jeepney home or stop by the market and get some real food. That chicken and pasta was the first real meal I’ve had for days. Somehow, the idea of tearing a pack of instant ramen doesn’t get me all stoked now.  So I walked, lighting another cigarette. Yeah, nasty habit. But I don’t encourage it. Not one bit. Leave me alone with my poisons. And no I don’t believe Vapes will make things a little better. A slow stroll down a crowded street, puffing along.

Ordered some rice and a serving of bulalo, topped with garlic and chili paste. Sent the rest of the money home to the countryside.

Money in my pocket feels good.

Bought some packs of smokes, coffee, creamer and sugar to sustain me in my solitary confinement for the rest of the days that will take to finish this project and get paid.

Simple, don’t you think?

I got to stop deluding myself.

This is creative hell.

I will do what I can with this project, pour my soul in it. Creating something beautiful out if thin air. Well maybe not entirely, because all of  it will be on paper. Still, clients, and employers for that matter are seldom, really, seldom mindful of your craft. it’s like buying meals at a fast food chain all over again. They line up at the counter pay for it and expect to get results in a manner of minutes. It is like that. They don’t want to know what happens in the kitchen. They are very much like vegetarians who see carnivores as a lower form of life form on Earth and they are the chosen ones to lord it over. But they need the proteins. So they ask the carnivores to get it for them. And it goes in circles.

The project gets done. You inform them, because the clients are just too busy to do follow ups on you, that you need to tell them “Hey! it’s done!” and they give you all sorts of bullshit. That copy of Non-Disclosure agreement you signed never did get to you. You ask about it, and no one answers. Now expectations of getting paid becomes blurry, because you’ve dealt with people like these before, and yet you accept this project because you have to earn outside of an establishment that for all intents and purposes , has the facade of order and functionality, but in al reality is full of inept people with official sounding titles and bosses who give that pep talk about teamwork and “one-for-the-team” speeches, how the boss is “one-with-you”, how “mediocrity-is-not-an-option”  all the while they have in their employ a couple of semi-creative minds that all the skill they have is shooting down ideas and creations they themselves have no capacity of doing, and artists like you end up as just hired clerks, doing things over and over. A step forward gets you two steps backward, and you get fed up with the delayed pay, and the unnatural ways of following  poorly thought decisions from bosses. So you get out and go freelance and what do you get?

Same sort of bullshit.

There’s Pasyon being sung somewhere near as I open the gate to my landlord’s house and I climb the steps to my room. I know Josephine was flirting with me. It’s a woman’s weapon that any man is susceptible., even priests. I know she’s just doing her job as an agent for her publisher boss. She got the project practically cheap. I accepted it cheap.

Because I’m a slut. There was an internet meme that says:

A Slut is a woman with the morals of a man.”

As I sit on my table now, still thinking about all the drawing I have to do, and how it’ll be another cat and mouse with the rest of the payment, I sharpen a pencil, took a fresh sheet of paper, adn started sketching.

What else can I do?

All the talk about creativity and talent and skill? None of it matters. It all boils down to the money. Forget how I think ” Finally I meet a boss whom I can follow  through and through.” Forget about everything.

It’s all about the money now.

And I am in hell already.

As I draw a form of a face, I keep thinking, ” Will this ever . . . .”

(END)